Continuity for Egypt and Angola youth at stake
SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - Only time will tell if FIBA Africa's decision to have the 2014 FIBA Africa U18 Championship for Men at the same time as Angola and Egypt will be playing at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship for Men is positive or not for both countries.
For the man who guided Angola to last year's U16 African title, it is a bad idea, especially as it prevents his group of players to continue their development before reaching the senior age.
In last year's tournament, Angola beat Egypt in the Final, and as a result both nations secured the places on offer to African teams for the third edition of the U17 World Championship.
Angola will be making their debut in the 16-team tournament, while Egypt, the former solo African representative, will show up for the third consecutive time.
Nevertheless, with this year's edition of the U18 African Championship running from 1 to 10 August in Madagascar, and the U17 World Championship running from 8 to 16 August in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the likes of Alexandre Jungo and Silvio de Sousa of Angola as well as Egypt's Mohamed Abdelrahman and Ahmed Taha will most likely reach the senior team without a FIBA Africa U18 Championship for Men in their resumes because of the overlapped schedule.
It is not the end of the world for those young players, I would say, although Angola and Egypt will be competing in Madagascar with players of their age group lacking in international competition.
In the past few years, continuity has been key for Egypt's continental success, and it became clear when three of their rising stars represented the country at AfroBasket 2013, where the North African country secured qualification to the FIBA Basketball World Cup for the first time since 1994.
As Angola holds a training camp in Spain before heading to Dubai, I asked Manuel Silva "Gi", the team's head coach, to share his impressions of missing a tournament that he would love to take part in with his group of players.
"This is an unpleasant situation for our players because this decision of hosting the tournament at this time of the year disrupts their international career cycle," he said.
"As far as I know, 80 percent of the Egyptian team that won the 2011 U16 FIBA Africa Championship for Men then competed the following year at the 2012 U18 FIBA African Championship. And that same team went on to play at the 2012 U17 FIBA World Championship for Men.
"Continuity and notifying the national teams beforehand is a policy that FIBA Africa should take seriously when they plan and decide the competitions' schedules."
If the tournament was to take place later in the year, Silva says, some of these players could still reach the senior team with a full African basketball experience.
Regardless of the debate surrounding the schedule of the upcoming U18 African Championship, FIBA Africa announced the 12 teams that will do battle in Madagascar for the two qualifying places for next year's FIBA U19 World Championship for Men.
Alongside hosts Madagascar, Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Mali, Tunisia, Benin, Gabon, Uganda, Angola, Mozambique and Algeria are expected to travel to the capital city of Antananarivo.
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